Happy birthday to you! Ely Language Cafe celebrates its first anniversary

MENTORS and students at the Ely Language Cafe have celebrated their first anniversary, and they are now looking for funding to help them extend the scope of the service.

Each week, a group of volunteers spends the morning chatting to foreign visitors to the city, who need help with their English language skills.

Mentor Ann Toulmin, who also runs Spanish classes at U3A, said: “The idea is to converse with our guests, to improve their pronunciation, and understanding of the language. Our sessions also help improve confidence, we can see a transformation in the people who come along for help. Some of our guests have gone on to volunteer themselves, or find work.

“We are open for people who do not have English as their first language, they can be any age and nationality, and there is no charge.” Mentors can also help their clients find advice from the council or the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.

Ely Language Cafe meets every Tuesday morning at The Hub Team Rooms at the Lighthouse Centre in Lynn Road. Current clients include visitors from Russia, Italy, Spain and Lithuania.

Mentor Bob Handley has previously helped teach English to Polish workers, and has taught in France. “All the mentors do this for the love it, teaching is a great pleasure,” he said. “We would love more people to come along if they need help with their English.”

To improve their service, mentors are hoping to attract funding from a variety of sources, to buy educational materials including books and dictionaries.